Sometimes it feels like every small craft brewery is in constant expansion—and the numbers back up that general sentiment. More capacity, bigger brewhouses, contracting out, and bringing canning lines in—there’s an endless number of dependencies when you’re building out an expanded space in the hopes of meeting demand or chasing a growing market. And on the surface, these expansions seem obvious, almost simple. Afterthoughts in a market where success still seems inevitable for many.
But behind those expansions are a thousand tiny decisions, and a few really big ones, that add up to hope and anxiety, victories and defeats, self-doubt and over-confidence. But somehow, through all those ups and downs that any small business owner is all too familiar with, you have to have the unwavering faith that it’ll all work out.
Today’s guest is John Barley of Solemn Oath. I was there when they first fired up the brewhouse in 2012. I’ve been there alongside their many phases of growth over the subsequent few years. And today, I want to bring you a story about the project that pushed them, the entire team really, to their limits. Over the past year, they’ve replaced the brewhouse, their cold storage, brought in a canning line, and even mundane things like the boiler, condenser, all the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that makes the expansion possible—an expansion that, for a while, looked like it might be too much.
But here he is, on the other side. Not unscathed, but perhaps appropriately scathed. And better off for it.